WebHelp Uses TextIt to Collect Customer Feedback

Clear, effective feedback is a vital resource for any organization. In fact, customer feedback–a buyer, constituent or beneficiary’s reaction to an organization’s products, services, or policies–has never been more important in a time where agile methodology and user-centered design are ubiquitously employed. Here, the goal is to create a reliable, performant communication pipeline to facilitate an exchange of information that measures the difference between performance expected and performance exhibited.

Effective organizations are just as good at soliciting feedback as they are accepting it. They know that effective feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver, and the greater organization by creating clear directives that motivate improvement and promote alignment with brand, mission and strategy. They also know that mobile phones and the channels they support–SMS messaging, voice (IVR) and social media–are the most effective ways to solicit feedback with an open rate of 98% and response rate of over 70%.

WebHelp, a global business process outsourcing provider specializing in business process management and customer experience across a range of digital communication channels for companies like Sky, Vodafone and Shop Direct, is one such organization. WebHelp uses TextIt to collect product and customer service feedback via SMS messaging for a number of leading European companies.

How it Works

Each time a customer completes one of WebHelp’s client’s own customer support protocols, they receive an SMS-based workflow from WebHelp’s TextIt account, triggered by our Flow Run API endpoint (test it out on your own account using our API Explorer). The workflow measures both product and customer service satisfaction through a series of simple, well-designed questions. WebHelp then uses tools like BIME to aggregate and analyze the workflow’s results and create a comprehensive report which their clients can use to improve their products and services.

Behind the Process

TextIt’s simple, visual drag-and-drop workflow builder, coupled with its uniquely powerful logic engine, allows experts such as WebHelp to build their own brand of mobile messaging feedback forms in minutes and deploy them instantly.

WebHelp’s surveys are short and direct, consisting of no more than 5 questions. Time-sensitive surveys such as service evaluations have higher completion rates when kept at or below 5 questions. They begin by measuring the customer’s satisfaction with the customer service process as a whole. Next, they determine whether or not the issue was resolved. Finally, they ask the customer for comments to qualify their previous responses:  

At the end of the workflow, each customer’s feedback can be sent via email to your organization’s feedback platform:

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Note that TextIt's WebHook actions and API can also be used to pass customers’ feedback to other web services, like Slack, Zendesk, Woopra, Qualaroo, and much more!  

Give it a Try

Users who’ve purchased credits can download the feedback workflow mentioned in this article below:

To import this flow to your account, navigate to your account page, select “Import” from the settings menu in the top right corner, and add the flow:


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TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with customers, beneficiaries, constituents and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like WebHelp, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or Customer Satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 


The City of Boston Uses TextIt to Engage Youth & Facilitate Participatory Budgeting

The City of Boston’s ‘one-stop shop’ resource center for youth, the Boston Centers for Youth & Families Division of Youth Engagement and Employment (YEE), uses TextIt to power the SMS messaging-based portion of its communication pipeline. It’s the largest youth employer in Boston, hiring over 4,000 youth annually to work with over 200 community-based organizations.

To further engage Boston’s youth, YEE manages social media and marketing efforts geared toward civic engagement initiatives, and distributes a monthly newsletter to over 40,000 youth, families, and youth workers across the city. All youth are welcome, as focus is placed on vulnerable youth populations including LGBTQ, homeless or unaccompanied, court-involved, and undocumented youth.

The internationally recognized division, which provides thousands of teens ages 15-18 with meaningful employment experiences and career readiness training, is breaking ground in the participatory budgeting space through its Youth Lead the Change (YLC) initiative.

Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting Boston’s mission is to empower youth to unlock their leadership potential by contributing to the management of $1,000,000 in capital city funds. The process, which takes place from November to June, includes an idea collection phase, in which ideas to improve the city are submitted; a proposal development phase, in which a team of 85 youth work with city staff to create proposals; and a ‘vote + present’ phase, in which Boston residents between the ages of 12 and 25 vote to decide which proposals get funded. The team then guides the implementation of winning proposals.

Applying TextIt 

YEE has found that using TextIt as an attendance-monitoring tool improves response rates. They ask youth to send a keyword to their dedicated number to confirm attendance at events and meetings, familiarizing them with the process of interacting with a TextIt workflow. They also use keywords as hooks to encourage participation. An keyword trigger might be an answer to a question posted at an event or meeting, or through a social media post. 

YEE used the following workflow to collect Youth Lead the Change participatory budgeting ideas: 

Part of YEE's SMS communication channel's success can be attributed to its clever use of shortened links. YEE often uses messages as a vehicle for richer content by sending respondents links to forms, surveys, written content or media. This is a simple yet effective way to guarantee content exposure, as an estimated 98% of text messages are viewed once delivered, and over 70% are responded to.

After they've received a link, users are placed in an intake flow designed to register youth interested in participating in the Youth Lead the Change program: 

Note that YEE makes use of TextIt's grouping features, placing respondents in groups populated by intake workflows, or adding them to groups corresponding with participation frequency. 

YEE also uses flows like the one pictured below to remind youth participants of upcoming events and RSVP for additional information:

International Attention

YEE's Youth Lead the Change program is receiving international attention for its approach to participatory budgeting. Francesco Tena, who heads YEE's Mayor's Youth Council, says his team is consistently responding to information requests from domestic and foreign counterparts. The program has hosted delegations from cities in China, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Russia, and Lebanon. In addition, YEE has been recognized by the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation and was awarded 1st place in the City Livability Awards from the US Conference of Mayors.

Keys to Success

Tena and his team have demonstrated that text messaging is an effective communication channel for disconnected youth. Specifically, YEE has found that the following directives improve their response rates: 

  • Write how you talk. 
  • Use the tone you would with a close friend. 
  • Use first names (called by the @contact.first_name) flow variable
  • Solicit message content feedback from a party that represents your intended audience. In YEE's case, this meant asking youth participants to review messages prior to sending them.
  • Reward the participant for their time: deliver content with each interaction.

Visit YEE's website for to learn more or get in touch. 

TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with beneficiaries, customers and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like YEE, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or Customer Satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Introducing the @new_contact Variable

The @new_contact variable was recently added to TextIt's variable catalogue to support an exciting yet advanced new use case: creating additional contacts associated with a single phone and assigning each their own therapy adherence campaigns. You might think of it as adding "sub-contacts" to an existing contact. Essentially, it allows you to create and manage multiple contacts who communicate via a single phone, e.g. a family. Accordingly, you might apply this feature to a service that not only provides maternity health reminders to expecting mothers, but medical reminders pertaining to the health of their other children as well. 

Applying the @new_contact Concept

The aim of the following use case is to create separate profiles for each child, all containing the mother's phone number, so that she can receive campaign events addressed to each of her children.

Creating Sub-Contacts

First, you'll need to start the mother in a flow that collects relevant information about each child. This ensures that each flow run will result in the creation of a new child:



After your workflow has collected relevant information about the child, you'll use @new_contact to create an empty placeholder for that child's contact profile, and the Start Someone in a Flow action to start a flow that will update the new contact's field values: 


Updating Each New Contact's Profile

The next flow should contain a series of Update the Contact actions that will update the values collected by the previous flow (name, gender, age) to the placeholder for the child, @new_contact:




First, you'd create a contact field for the child that will contain the mother's phone number (you can create new contact fields within the Update Contact flow action). Then, you'll populate that field with the mother's phone number using the @step.contact.tel_e164 variable. @step.contact refers to the mother - the contact who sent the previous message: 




Then, you'd place the @extra variable in front of each of the values collected from the previous flow: 




Once each child's contact profile is created, you can assign them their own campaign

Sending Reminders Intended for the Child

To send reminders to the mother for her child, you'll need to create a campaign event to be sent to the child's contact profile that contains a flow that uses the Send a Message to Someone Else or Start Someone Else in a Flow actions to message the mother. The address you'll use is the contact field containing the mother's phone number, @contact.mother_phone

Download these Flows

If you've purchased credits, you can download the workflows referenced in this post and import them into your account for guidance. 

Your feedback is invaluable to us. You can share your questions, comments and suggestions with us at support@textit.in. If you haven't tried TextIt, you can do so for free here

Stay Raja Ampat Uses TextIt to Collect SMS Inquiries & Confirm Bookings

Stay Raja Ampat, an eco-tourism homestay enterprise that offers traditional Papuan accommodations where you can dive, snorkel, relax, experience traditional culture and see incredible wildlife among Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands, uses TextIt to collect SMS inquiries and confirm homestay booking requests. 

The Booking Process

Homestays are booked through Stay Raja Ampat’s booking module, which collects your phone number in addition to your booking information prior to checkout:

Stay Raja Ampat’s SMS-based booking confirmation process is powered by the WordPress TextIt SDK, a custom WordPress plugin developed by Stay Raja Ampat to respond to TextIt WebHook events through their WordPress site, and TextIt’s Flow Event WebHooks (see documentation here). Once the booking is completed, clients who've provided an Indonesian phone number receive a confirmation message containing the location of their homestay, booking ID, number of guests and rooms, checkin and checkout dates, and pickup location. Clients can respond to confirm the information provided on their booking: 

Clients receive a text message similar to the one below once the keys passed from Stay Raja Ampat's site replace their @extra placeholders: 

Submitting an Inquiry

In addition to booking confirmations, Stay Raja Ampat uses TextIt's Send Email action to manage SMS inquiries. All messages containing the keyword trigger "Collect" followed by an inquiry are directed to Stay Raja Ampat's booking email address:

Android Channel Reliability 

Stay Raja Ampat processes every messages through our free Android app, which provides a simple yet effective messaging channel anywhere in the world - all you need is an Android phone, internet access and a cellular network. 

Book Your Stay

Visit Stay Raja Ampat’s website to book a stay among Raja Ampat’s tropical island jewels and densely populated seas. You'll experience a nursery and refuge for coral and fish species that are rapidly disappearing from elsewhere in the region, and you’ll be supporting the local economy as you empower the traditional owners of Raja Ampat in their efforts to preserve both their environment and way of life.

Visit our site to sign-up for a free TextIt account - no credit card required. Questions? Comments? Get in touch with us anytime at support@textit.in.

Using TextIt to Assign & Validate Coupon Codes, ID Codes and More

SMS is a popular channel for validation of any kind. In fact, it's built into most of our favorite services, as Google, Facebook and others provide 2-factor authentication to protect your accounts. If you've ever connected a Twilio number to your TextIt account or downloaded Uber, you've likely received a text containing a code and instructions to enter it into the app.

While TextIt's WebHook RuleSets are ideal for coupon code, order number or identification code validation at scale, we also offer a lightweight method that anyone can use: storing these codes as contact attributes and validating them with a simple, three step workflow. 

Getting Started

First, you'll need to create a contact field and assign each contact a code. Codes can easily be generated in Excel or within a workflow using the RANDBETWEEN function. 

Assigning Each Contact a Code


If you'd like to assign codes to contacts and then import them into TextIt using a spreadsheet, you may do so by populating the column assigned to each contact's code with the =RANDBETWEEN expression: 



You can also use a workflow to generate codes. Here's how that might look:



The first step will be to generate the code and assign it to a contact field using an Update the Contact action. In the example below, the field that will contain the code is called Participation Code, which will be assigned a random 4-digit number between 1000 and 9999 using the @(RANDBETWEEN(1000, 9999)) expression: 



A message will then be sent to the contact containing the code. Each time a contact passes through this workflow, a new code will be generated and assigned: 



Validating Each Contact's Code



Once you've assigned a code to a contact field for each contact, you can evaluate it against that same contact field using a simple "Wait for Response" RuleSet. All you need to do is place the contact variable representing the contact field for each contact's code in the RuleSet's value input: 



That's all there is to it. The resulting workflow is as straightforward as can be for the end user: 



Download these Flows

If you've purchased credits, you can download the workflows referenced in this post and import them into your account for guidance. 

Code-Generating Workflow: 

Code-Validating Workflow: 

Your feedback is invaluable to us. You can share your questions, comments and suggestions with us at support@textit.in. If you haven't tried TextIt, you can do so for free here




Feature Update: Reach your Contacts on Telegram

We're proud to announce that you can now add Telegram channels, giving you access to a super-fast, simple and free platform used by over 62 million people around the world through any mobile device. Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service - similar to WhatsApp and WeChat - with a focus on speed, openness and security. It's open source and encrypted end-to-end, meaning that all data sent and received via Telegram cannot be deciphered when intercepted by your ISP, network administrator or other third parties.

Why Telegram?

There are five key factors that make Telegram our first choice for cloud-based messaging: 

  1. Unlike most cloud-based chat applications, Telegram provides an open API that encourages integration and development.
  2. Telegram's values of openness and security fall in line with our own, allowing us to provide an encrypted channel for organizations communicating sensitive information.
  3. It's completely free.
  4. Telegram will allow you to send up to 30 messages per second - the same throughput a short code would allow at no cost. 
  5. Telegram provides a web app; a desktop version for Mac, PC and Linux; and mobile apps for all iOS and Android devices. It can be used anywhere an internet connection is available. 

How Does it Work?

Your Telegram channel will be represented by a Bot. Telegram Bots are special accounts that will serve as an interface for the workflows and messages you send via TextIt. Bots differ from standard accounts in that they: 

  • Have no online status and no last seen timestamps, the interface shows the label ‘bot’ instead.
  • Are given usernames that always end in ‘bot’ (e.g. @TriviaBot@GitHub_bot).
  • Act as a simple interface for Telegram's API. 

Much like TextIt, Telegram Bots allow you to create custom tools that provide you with alerts, weather forecasts, translations, or other services upon request, e.g. Poll bot

TextIt Enables Bulk Messaging

As it stands, Telegram doesn't provide a method for sending bulk messages or notifications. In fact, a Bot not connected to TextIt can't initiate conversations with new users. A new user must either add them to a group or send them a message first (they can use telegram.me/<bot_username> links or username search to find your bot). However, when a Bot is connected to your TextIt account, your Telegram contacts become TextIt contacts, allowing you to leverage our broadcast functionality to initiate conversations and send bulk notifications with ease. 

Getting Started

You can add a Telegram channel just like you would any other channel: simply log-in, navigate to the Add Channel page and select the Telegram option at the bottom of the page:

You'll be asked to enter an authentication token from your Telegram Bot, which is provided after you create it in Telegram. 

Follow the instructions provided to create your Bot. The first step is to find and initiate a conversation with the BotFather:

After initiating the conversation, send the /newbot command and give your bot a name. You can follow the link provided to give your Bot a picture and description. Then, plug the authentication token you're provided into your TextIt account. 

Considerations

Each time a new end-user initiates a conversation with your Bot, they'll do so by tapping or typing the /start command*. You can assign an introductory workflow, e.g. a registration workflow, to your Bot by creating a keyword trigger

*In order for your contacts to receive messages from your TextIt account via Telegram, they'll first need to tap the /start command. 

Try it Out

We've created some TextIt Bots to demonstrate what's possible. You can interact with them by creating or opening a Telegram account and searching for Purrington, a Bot that provides facts about cats, or Snowman, a Bot that provides weather reports for the Northwest Washington area:

As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, let us know! If you don't yet have a TextIt account, you can create one for free here. We provide 1,000 complimentary messages to help you get started.

Feature Update: Adding, Replacing & Prioritizing Contact Addresses

We're excited to announce updates to TextIt's contacts module. The contacts module, which comprises all logic related to the people who interact with your account via a channel, allows you to assign them any number of attributes, including the individual's name, phone number, and any other information pertinent to your use case. What's more, each contact's attributes can be updated in real time as they interact with your workflows, or through our contacts API endpoint, which can update values using information provided by any of the other web services your organization might be using. 

Added Flexibility - Contact Addresses

Each contact has an address, or URN, to which messages from your TextIt account are sent. Addresses represent the ways in which you can connect with each contact. The most common address type is a Phone Number, though a contact can also have a Twitter HandleTelegram Identifier, Email Address, and any External Identifier you wish to add. Before, contacts were limited to one address per address type, though they could be assigned multiple address types. Now, each contact can be assigned multiple addresses of the same type - meaning you can now assign multiple phone numbers to a single contact. This addresses the concerns of users who deploy in countries where contacts frequently change phone numbers to take advantage of rotating airtime deals, or possess dual SIM phones or even multiple phones. In these cases, a contact's addresses can be prioritized, in which case they'll appear on a contact's profile page in the order in which they're prioritized:


Additionally, only a contact's prioritized address will appear in the contacts tab view: 

Adding and Prioritizing Addresses

To accommodate these changes, we've restructured the settings menu in each contact's profile page:


The "Edit" option brings up the new Update Contact dialogue, which is where you can add and edit each contact's default fields, including their names, groups, and addresses:


The Add Connection menu provides an input for you to add connections of all types. One connection can be added at a time; multiple connections will need to be added one at a time. 

The upward-pointing arrows to the right of the address fields are what you'll use to prioritize your contact's addresses. TextIt recognizes the topmost address as the priority, which is an important indicator for outbound messages. Let's assume your account has phone, Twitter and Telegram channels connected and you send a message to 3 contacts, each with a different address priority. The channel that corresponds with each contact's address priority will send them the message. That is to say, you'd have 3 channels processing 1 send message request; your Twitter channel will send to those with a Twitter address priority, your Telegram channel will send to those with a Telegram address priority, and so on. Otherwise, channel priority behavior remains the same: A contact's address type priority will dictate which channel type will send messages to the contact. If you have multiple channels of the same type connected to your account, the channel that the contact last initiated contact with will be prioritized. Contacts can be locked-in to a relationship with a specific channel (they'll only received messages from this channel) under three conditions: 
  1. You have multiple channels of the same type connected to your account. 
  2. The contact's address type priority corresponds with the channel type (e.g. phone number) that possess multiple channels (e.g. multiple phone numbers).
  3. The contact initiates contact through an incoming message.

Custom Field Editing 

With the Update Contact dialogue now exclusively dedicated to editing a contact's default fields and addresses, custom fields have been given their own dialogue. Whereas custom fields can be created via the "Manage Fields" button on the contacts tab, they can now be manually updated via the settings menu in each contact's profile: 


Simply replace the existing value and click "Ok": 


Of course, contact fields can also be edited via a workflow containing an Update the Contact action. 

Contact Imports & Exports

Contacts can be imported with multiple address types, but only one address for each type

Contact addresses can be added via an import, so long as the UUID column contains the UUID(s) of the contact(s). Contact UUIDs can be obtained by exporting your contacts or using List Contacts request in the API Explorer

Replacing Addresses

At this time, contact addresses may only be replaced via the Contacts API Endpoint or a contact’s profile page as outlined above.

As always, if you have any questions about what's possible or suggestions on how to make things easier, let us know! Look out for additional updates in the coming weeks.  

Ensuring your SMS Messaging Service Complies with the TCPA

This guide is for informational purposes only. We recommend contacting an attorney to seek additional advice pertaining to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and SMS marketing best practices in general. Note that calls and texts sent via TextIt are considered 'Robocalls' and 'Robotexts' by the FCC, and we strongly advise against SMS spamming.

Our US-based users frequently ask us for tips for complying with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which governs mass transmission of text messages (SMS) and phone calls in the United States. In an effort to further quell TCPA-related concerns and encourage FCC compliance, we've put together this short, comprehensive guide. 

Who is this Guide for? 

This guide may be useful for anyone who uses TextIt to SMS and/or IVR messages within the United States. When sending text messages or phone calls that aren't bidirectional or contact-initiated (i.e., triggered by TextIt's keyword or uncaught message triggers), you're engaging in automated telephone dialing, the primary mechanism governed by the TCPA. 

TCPA Requirements

Prior Consent 

Organizations are required to obtain prior written express consent from their contacts before sending messages. Thanks to the E-SIGN Act, prior written consent may include electronic or digital forms of signature (i.e., agreements obtained via email, website form, text message, dial pad or voice recording).website form submissions or text message opt-ins.

When soliciting consent, consider the following: 

1) The consumer’s consent to receive such solicitations must be unambiguous, meaning that the consumer must receive a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” that he/she will receive future calls/text messages that deliver autodialed and/or pre-recorded telemarketing messages; that his/her consent is not a condition of purchase; and he/she must designate a phone number at which to be reached. Consent may not be a condition of sale. 

2) When asking your contacts to participate in your service (either through a web form, point of sale, mobile opt-in, or paper document), you must disclose the following: "By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent through an automatic telephone dialing system."

3) This disclosure must be made clear and conspicuous to your contacts before they have opted into your SMS service. This means that you should disclose the use of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (equipment which has the capacity to dial without human intervention) in close proximity to the mobile phone number input. 

Condition of Purchase 

The TCPA requires that contacts be made aware that their consent is not a condition of making a purchase. This means that your contacts or constituents can’t be forced to consent to receive text messages from your organization when they make a purchase from your organization. When asking your customers to participate in your message service, you must disclose the following: "Consent to these terms is not a condition of purchase."

Related considerations:  
  • All advertising and promotional material must clearly indicate if the service is a subscription. 
  • Subscription terms and billing intervals must be disclosed to your contacts.
  • You must clearly communicate all material terms and conditions of the program.  
  • All advertising, promotional material, and your "Help" message must clearly display the opt-out information.
  • The service should not be promoted as "free" when premium fees are associated with the service that the subscriber will pay with a reasonable level of participation in the program.

CTIA Requirements

While this guide is focused on helping you understand and implement TCPA requirements, you might also want to consider Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) requirements. The CTIA  is an international industry trade group representing the interests of wireless telecommunications companies. Below are the CTIA requirements for advertising a recurring SMS service to your contacts: 

  • Recurring program description (e.g., 'subscribe to receive recurring SMS offers') 
  • Stop instructions (e.g., 'Text STOP to opt out')  
  • Disclosure that message and data rates may apply (e.g., 'msg&data rates may apply')
  • T&C/privacy policy link (e.g., 'T&C/Privacy Policy: www.acme.co/privacypolicy')

Opting-out 

According to the TCPA, your contacts should have the ability to opt-out at any time. 

How Twilio Manages Opt-outs

When a contact sends STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END or QUIT to one of your Twilio numbers, Twilio will prevent them from receiving any additional messages until that contact responds START. Specifically, they'll receive the following message:

"You have successfully been unsubscribed. You will not receive any more messages from this number. Reply START to resubscribe." 

When that contact resubscribes, they'll receive the following message: 

"You have successfully been resubscribed to messages from this number. Reply HELP for help. Reply STOP to unsubscribe. Msg&Data Rates May Apply." 

How TextIt Manages Opt-outs

When Twilio notifies us that a contact has blacklisted one of your Twilio numbers, we place that contact in the default 'Stopped' group in your account's Contacts tab. The contact is removed from all other groups and specially marked so that any outbound message attempts are blocked.

(Use this guide to have Twilio notify you of errors–like the 21610 blacklist error mentioned in this article–via email.) 

Sending Timeframe 

The TCPA stipulates that text messages may only be sent between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the time zone your recipient is in. If your service sends messages to contacts in different timezones, contact us about the various options we provide.  

Record Keeping

To protect your organization from future disputes, it's advisable to maintain each contact's consent for at least four years from that date in which it was given, which is the federal statute of limitations for bringing an action under the TCPA.

Questions? Comments? Let us know

Adding a Group Chat Component to your SMS Messaging Service

If you've used TextIt in the United States, chances are you've purchased a virtual number from Twilio and connected it to your account. Twilio's speed, efficiency and reliability make it the channel of choice for countless TextIt users. They even give nonprofits $500 in credit and a 25% discount. By all accounts, it's a perfect match: whereas Twilio's API can be used to add high performance SMS and voice capability to any application, TextIt provides an interface that gives you unprecedented control over the messages sent and received via Twilio's API. 

Recently, Twilio published an article about SMSUp, a group chat application built by Urban Refugees that allows refugees to create their own distribution lists, share critical information within their community and become empowered to self organize easily. Coincidentally, group chat is one of the many applications you can build with TextIt. Agricultural cooperatives across Africa use group chat workflows built with TextIt to coordinate prices and facilitate conversations about fish, maize, cassava, beans, fruits and other goods. If you log-in to your TextIt account and navigate to the flows tab, you'll see that it's even one of the sample workflows we provide at sign-up. 

Here's an example: 

Building a Group Chat Workflow

The first step in building a group chat workflow is to create a group for the chat. This creates the group to which each contact's message, sent by the Send a Message to Somebody Else action, will be delivered. Once sent, each contact's message will be delivered to the group. 

To protect privacy, you might consider allowing your contacts to provide an alias. This is also useful if your contact's names haven't yet been updated to your account. 

The steps above collect the contact's alias, update it to their contact profile, let both the contact and the rest of the group chat know that the group has a new member, and then adds the contact to the group. 

Once the contact has responded, they'll reach the "Wait for Command" RuleSet, which will evaluate each message sent by the contact for the word 'exit' - a command that will exit them from the group chat.

All other messages pass through the "other" category and are directed to the group chat using the Send an SMS to Somebody Else action, which contains the sender's name and response, represented by the @step.contact.name and @step.value variables. The @step. prefix allows us to reference the active contact in a message to the contacts who comprise the group, while the variable @step.value refers to the last message sent by the active contact. Click here to learn more about contact variables

Placing a Remove from Groups action before the Send an SMS to Somebody Else prevents the active contact from receiving the message they just sent. After the message is sent, the contact is then placed back into the group using the Add to Groups action so that they may receive responses from their others in the group: 

Give it a Try

Open the group chat sample workflow present in your flows tab to play around with this concept. As always, if you have any questions about what is possible, or suggestions on how to make things easier, let us know!  

Don't have an account? Click here to sign-up for free - no credit card required. 

Using TextIt for Longitudinal SMS Studies

Informed by participation in an SMS-based clinic attendance and early infant HIV testing study, TextIt was built with the needs of longitudinal research efforts in mind. In the workflow pictured above, members of the target group are asked if they're feeling healthy or ill on the day they're contacted. Assuming this workflow is sent each day over an extended period of time, each contact's daily condition will need to be tracked. Contact fields are a handy way to do so.

Storing Collected Data within Contact Fields

Each contact is assigned attributes, called contact fields, that hold values such as their names, phone numbers, and any other individual information you might want to include. Contact fields allow you to store separate but related values such as the current status of a contact and the total number of times they've reported feeling ill. Storing the data you collect to contact fields sets you up to access it with ease once the study's over, as contact fields can be exported to a simple XLS spreadsheet: 

In the workflow pictured above, the Update the Contact action is used to:

1. Update the "Current Status" contact field with the category through which each contact passes - "Feeling Healthy" or "Feeling Ill": 

2. Update the "Illness Count" contact field with a running tally of the times each contact reports they're feeling ill. 

If it's the first time the contact has reported feeling ill, the "Illness Count" contact field will be updated to reflect that: 

If it's not the first time the contact has reported feeling ill, the "Illness Count" contact field will increase by 1: 

Segmenting Contacts into Groups

The Add Message LabelAdd to Group/Remove from Group actions allow you to automatically segment contacts in real time based on the contents of their responses. In the workflow pictured above, contacts are placed in the "Healthy" group if they pass through the "Feeling Healthy" category and the "Feeling Ill" group if they pass through the "Feeling ill" category. In each instance, they're removed from the group representing the opposite choice so that they're only present in one group at a time. 

Creating Alerts

You can also use the Send an Email and Send a Messages to Someone Else actions to alert team members of responses to specific questions, or passage of contacts to/from groups. 

In the example workflow above, the Split on Illness Count RuleSet determines whether or not the participant has reported sickness more than 20 times - a metric that would indicate they require closer evaluation, as they may not be adhering to their therapy or their therapy isn't benefitting them: 


Send Email action has been added to provide staff the name of any participant that reports feeling ill more than 20 times: 

Try it for Yourself

Create an account or log-in to apply these features to your own workflows. Questions or comments can be directed to support@textit.in :)